Images by Date
Images by Category
Solar System
Stars
White Dwarfs
Supernovas
Neutron Stars
Black Holes
Milky Way Galaxy
Normal Galaxies
Quasars
Galaxy Clusters
Cosmology/Deep Field
Miscellaneous
Images by Interest
Space Scoop for Kids
4K JPG
Multiwavelength
Sky Map
Constellations
3D Wall
Photo Blog
Top Rated Images
Image Handouts
Desktops
High Res Prints
Fits Files
Image Tutorials
Photo Album Tutorial
False Color
Cosmic Distance
Look-Back Time
Scale & Distance
Angular Measurement
Images & Processing
AVM/Metadata
Getting Hard Copies
Image Use Policy
Web Shortcuts
Chandra Blog
RSS Feed
Chronicle
Email Newsletter
News & Noteworthy
Image Use Policy
Questions & Answers
Glossary of Terms
Download Guide
Get Adobe Reader
Animations: Does the Gas in Galaxy Clusters Flow Like Honey?
A Tour of the Coma Cluster
(Credit: NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)
[Runtime: 02:14]

With closed-captions (at YouTube)

Many of us have seen intricate patterns that milk makes in coffee and much smoother ones that honey makes when stirred with a spoon. Which of these cases best describes the behavior of the hot gas in galaxy clusters? By answering this question, a new study using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has deepened our understanding of galaxy clusters, the largest structures in the Universe held together by gravity.

Galaxy clusters are comprised of three main components: individual galaxies, multimillion-degree gas that fills the space between the galaxies, and dark matter, a mysterious form of matter that is spread throughout a cluster and accounts for about 80 percent of the mass of the cluster.

A team of astronomers used a new 12-day-long Chandra observation of the Coma galaxy cluster to probe its hot gas, which glows only in X-ray light. By measuring the behavior of the hot gas on small scales, the researchers were able to learn about the viscosity -- the technical term for stickiness – of the hot gas in Coma. They found that the viscosity of Coma's gas was lower than they expected. In other words, the hot gas in Coma behaves more like milk than honey in our cosmic coffee mug.

Why is the viscosity of Coma's hot gas so low? Scientists are still working on that question, but one possible explanation is that tiny irregularities in Coma's magnetic field create turbulence in the hot gas. These small-scale properties can, in turn, have major impacts on important phenomena such as collisions and mergers with other galaxy clusters and galaxy groups. Scientists will continue to study galaxy clusters with Chandra to get a deeper understanding of these cosmic giants.


A Quick Look at the Coma Cluster
(Credit: NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)
[Runtime: 1:08]

Galaxy clusters are the largest structures in the Universe held together by gravity.

Enclosing the hundreds or thousands of galaxies are enormous amounts of superheated gas that glow in X-ray light.

Understanding how this gas behaves is crucial to learning about these cosmic giants.

A new study with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory reveals insight into the viscosity, or "stickiness," of the hot gas in one cluster.

Researchers found the viscosity of the hot gas in the Coma galaxy cluster was lower than they expected.

In other words, the hot gas in Coma acts more like milk swirling around in coffee than honey.

Scientists think this low viscosity in Coma may have to do with small irregularities in the galaxy cluster's magnetic field.




Return to Does the Gas in Galaxy Clusters Flow Like Honey? (June 19, 2019)